WASHINGTON, D.C. — On June 6, a federal judge temporarily blocked Louisiana’s congressional map for the 2022 election cycle, a win for the state’s Black voters. The map was challenged in March for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting the voting strength of Black Louisianans, who make up one-third of Louisiana’s population but only form a majority in one out of six congressional districts. During a preliminary injunction hearing held in early May, voters and civil rights groups presented evidence that Black voters are “cracked” across multiple districts and “packed” into one district to ensure that they can only elect the candidate of their choice in one district, not two.
In her order, Judge Shelly Dick agreed with the plaintiffs that Louisiana’s current map likely violates the VRA by diluting the voting strength of Black voters. Based on extensive evidence presented by the plaintiffs’ experts (and unrefuted by the defendants and their experts), the judge found that the Black population in Louisiana is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in two congressional districts. The judge also found that Black Louisianans vote cohesively as a bloc. Especially in light of “Louisiana’s long and ongoing history of voting-related discrimination,” the judge ruled that the plaintiffs properly “demonstrated that they will suffer an irreparable harm if voting takes place in the 2022 Louisiana congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law.” The judge soundly rejected the defendants’ claims that it was too late in the election cycle to adopt a new map, noting that Louisiana’s congressional primaries are scheduled for November (Louisiana has a unique primary election system which you can learn about here). After hearing testimony from election officials, the court found that “a remedial congressional plan can be implemented in advance of the 2022 elections without excessive difficulty or risk of voter confusion.” The defendants have already appealed this decision.